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A History of the O'Mahony Septs of Kinelmeky and Ivagha
REV. CANON JOHN O'MAHONY, GLENVILLE, CROOKSTOWN
Journal of the Cork Archæological and Historical Society, various issues, 1906-10
Cork: Guy & Co., 1912
FROM A.D. 400 TO A.D. 1014
Of the predecessors of Mahon whose names are given in 1Genealogical Table No. I., ten are known only through that document. Ten others, as also three chieftains (who, having left no sons are not included in the genealogy) are mentioned in the Annals and other historical works―no inconsiderable proportion of the entire number of predecessors, if we bear in mind the destruction2 of so many of our ancient manuscripts by the Danish and English Invaders. In the Appendix to the last vol. of the Annals of the Four Masters, the editor has diligently put together all that had been handed down about Olioll OIum and the first four of his successors. Corc was not included in those researches, and it becomes necessary, therefore, to gather from various sources and, for the first time, combine into one narrative the scattered notices regarding that personage in the early records.
Corc was the son of Lugaidh, and grandson of Olioll Flanbeg, a former King of Munster. The Book of Leinster (289 a. l., Dr. Atkinson's Ed.) gives an account, partly historical and partly legendary, of an event of his youth. In consequence of an accusation made by his stepmother, he incurred the wrath of his father, who obliged him to leave Ireland, and betake himself to Scotland. The wrathful Lugaidh caused to be inscribed in ogham on his son's shield a request to King Feradach to put him to death without delay. But Gruibne, King Feradach's poet, whom Corc had saved from captivity in Ireland, noticed the inscription, and, having explained its fatal import to Corc, succeeded in persuading the King that it meant a request that he would give his daughter in marriage to the son of Lugaidh. The marriage accordingly took place. The legend is, obviously, borrowed from the Homeric story of Bellerophon, in the sixth book of the Iliad, and unskilfully borrowed, as it substituted a visible inscription, for the secret symbols inscribed on the "folded tablet." The legend evidently originated at a much later period, when the ogham had ceased to be used, and was regarded as having been a cryptic form of writing. But, notwithstanding the legendary accretion, the historical fact that Corc sojourned in Scotland, and married the daughter of a Scottish prince, seems to be attested by the firm belief of the Mor Maers of Magh Ghergin (Mar) and Leamna (Lennox) that they were descendants of his son Maine Leamna. Of this belief the Mor Maers in A.D. 1014 gave evidence in coming to assist their brethren of the Clan Cuirc and their more remote relative, Brian, at the battle of Clontarf, where one of them was killed. This belief was shared by the Irish antiquaries, who reckoned Magh-Ghergin (Mar) among the "Eoganachts,"3 and inserted the pedigree of the Mor Maers in the genealogy of the tribes of the Clan Cuirc. On the identification of these "High Stewards" with the Stuarts, see Cambrensis Eversus, vol. iii., p. 65. Certainly the descent of the Stuarts from a Celtic ancestry was maintained by Hector Boethius in his History of Scotland, and must, therefore, have been acknowledged by his patron, James V. The theory of their Norman extraction is precariously sustained, and does not account for the origin of the name Stuart, so naturally explained as the English equivalent of Mor Maer.
After the death of his father, Corc returned to Ireland, and resided at his Fort of Raithleann, according to Bardic tradition, until he was elected King of Munster. The circumstances of his election are narrated at some length by Keating (History of Ireland), who had access to sources now lost about Munster affairs. He relates that Connal, of Dalcassian descent, laid claim to the vacant throne of Munster, that the senior race of Eoghan Mor resisted his claim, maintaining the right of Corc, and that the interregnum continued until the question was referred to the brehons of Munster, who decided in favour of Corc.
He selected Cashel as the royal residence, and is said to have reigned thirty years.4 According to O'Flaherty (Ogygia, part iii., c. 81), the territory where he fixed his residence was called Corca Eachrach, and extended in length from Tibraid Arainn (Tipperary) to Dun Andriais, on the north side of Knockraffon. Place-names called after him were, Muscraighe Cuirc, the Barony of Clanwilliam, Co. Tipperary; Dun Cuirc, which has been identified with Bruree, and Rath Cuirc, which, as we have seen, was the bardic name of Rath Raithleann.5
The Four Masters, under the year 438, have the following entry: "The tenth year of Laeghaire. The Seanchus and the Feinechus of Eire were purified and written; the old books having been collected into one place at the request of St. Patrick. These were the nine supporting props by whom it was done. . . . as the following quatrain testifies:
"Laeghaire, Corc, Daire the stern, Patrick, Benen, and Cairnech the just,
Ross, Dubtach, Fergus. . . . nine props these of the Seanchus Mor."
The quatrain was taken from the Glossary of Cormac (ob. 903), which has been edited by Whitley Stokes. On this entry Dr. O'Donovan makes the following comment: "The quotation is apochryphal. Corc was evidently not a contemporary of Laeghaire or of St. Patrick's mission, for he was the grandfather of Aenghus, the first Christian king." This is a curious blunder; the argument is―Corc could not be alive in 438, for his grandson was killed in 489! An interval of fifty years between the death of a grandfather and that of his grandson is an ordinary occurrence. He does not seem to be aware that the quatrain was taken from Cormac's Glossary, where it is quoted as an ancient authority. Professor Bury (Life of St. Patrick) gives an ingenious defence of the historic truth of the old quatrain. The only other extant records regarding Corc are three poems ascribed to Torna Eigeas ("the learned"), a contemporary poet, who had been fosterfather or instructor of Corc and Nial. In two of these the bard seeks to reconcile his two favourites, who had become rival claimants for the monarchy of Ireland. The third and best known of these poems is an Elegy on both princes, consisting of fifty-two lines, a translation of which is contained in Hardiman's Irish Minstrelsy, vol. ii. The authenticity of this piece is disputed, but (as appears at least to the present writer), some considerations of weight can be adduced in favour of the tradition that ascribed it to Torna. The inevitable modernization to which all popular poems are subjected, in the course of transcription or recitation through many centuries, has not entirely obliterated all marks of its antiquity. A few archaic forms tell more for its antiquity than many modernized forms and expressions for its more recent origin. Again, there are in it no anachronisms, no Christian expressions, such as might be expected in an Elegy written by a Christian bard, but which could not emanate from one traditionally known as the "last bard of the Pagan race." Moreover, the author, himself a Southern, impartially eulogises6
"Nial, the son of hundred-battled Con,
And Corc of Eoghan Mor the not less glorious son."
Such impartiality cannot be looked for in any poem that was not written at some date preceding Brian Boru's aggression on the hereditary right of the Northern princes to the Crown of Ireland. Since that event, the mutual animosities of Northern and Southern bards and annalists have often been in evidence, as in the divergent accounts of Malachy's action at Clontarf, and in the poetical contest known as "The Contention of the Bards," in the sixteenth century, which commenced with a censure of Torna for his impartiality.
Corc had four sons―Natfraoch, Cas, Maine Leamna (who settled in Scotland) and Cairbre Luachra. Neither of these succeeded him as King of Munster. Keating states that his successor was Connal Echluach, who was succeeded in 453 by Corc's grandson, Aenghus, son of Natfraoch, who became the first Christian king.
Cas, Mahon's ancestor, is said to have married Beibhionn, daughter of the chief of Corcalaidhe (Corcalee). His name is alluded to in the Book of Rights, as already quoted, in connection with his residence, Rathleann, and the privilege of exemption from tribute enjoyed by him and his tribe. His descendants are called the "Clan of Cas," but in verse only, not in any prose chronicle. His son was Eachaidh (eacaro, genitive case eacac, hence Ui Eacac, the descendants of Eachaidh). He was cousin-german of Aenghus, above referred to, who was killed in battle in 489. This circumstance determines approximately the time when he flourished, and he may be considered to have been the first Christian chief of the tribe. He acquired the cognomen of Cruadh, the hard or severe (see page 194 ante), and this is all we know about his personal history. From his name was formed the patronymic designation of his Sept―the Ui Eachach. To this Sept-name was added by the Annalists generally, "Mumhain," i.e., "of Munster," to distinguish the Sept from a similarly-named Sept, the Ui Eachach of Uladh, i.e., UIida, the territory comprising Down and Antrim. The Chronicum Scotorum has the following entry: "A.D. 553. Death of Eachaid, son of Conlaed of UIadh, from whom the Ui Eachach UIadh are descended." As the distinguishing epithets were not invariably attached to these Sept names in ancient Irish literature, it often happened that passages intended to refer to one of these Septs were understood of the other. Thus Cronnelly, in his account of the O'Mahonys, applies to the southern clan a passage from the poem of Maolmora of Fahan (ob. A.D. 884) which was intended by that author for the northern Ui Eachach. The (Bodleian) Annals of Innisfallen have frequent references to both Septs, but do not add the distinctive epithets "Mumhan" or "Uladh"―a neglect that is very embarrassing to the reader. As has been already stated (p. 187, part i.), this Sept-name continued to be used for many centuries concurrently with the hereditary surname of O'Mahony borne by the chieftain's family from the end of the eleventh century. Even towards the close of the sixteenth century, Mac Brody,7 in a poem on the Eoganachts, while describing the other southern tribes by the names by which they are generally known, applies to the O'Mahonys the ancient appellation of their Sept.
But to return to Eochaidh―the Book of Leinster (p. 326), which spells the name Eocho, says: "Cas had one son, Eocho, Eocho had two sons―Criomthan and Lugaidh;" elsewhere five others are enumerated.
Criomthan, the eldest son and successor of Eochaidh, died while his children were young, and his brother Lugaidh, called "Cicech," or the "Breasted," who had acted as foster-father8 of the children, succeeded him as Ri Raithleann. In the Irish Life of St. Finbar, chap. 22, "Disert Mor" is said to be in the territory of the "descendants of Criompthan." This place-name is preserved in the name of a parish, Desertmore. It was in Lugaidh's time that St. Senanus came to live at Tuaim Aba, afterwards called Inniscarra, about A.D. 520. Ancient Irish Chieftains used not to object to outsiders coming to settle down in unoccupied parts of their territory, but were most particular in requiring tribute in recognition of their authority,9 and Lugaidh, the son of a convert from paganism and imperfectly imbued with Christian ideas, was not disposed to make an exception in favour of Senanus and his monastery. He sent to demand tribute, but Senanus replied that he would pay no tribute to any earthly king. Lugaidh sent a racehorse to be maintained at the monastery as a token of subjection, but the horse fell into the Lee and was drowned, only its forequarter (carra) appearing above water; whence the name Inniscarra―a good specimen of the etymological myth. The account of the dispute is given in two Latin Lives published by Colgan (Acta Sanctorum, March 8th and an Irish Life in Stokes' Anecdota Oxoniensia, from the Book of Lismore. The source drawn upon in these Lives was the metrical narrative of St. Colman, son of Lenin, the first Bishop of Cloyne, who, according to the Annals of the Four Masters, died in A.D. 600. The following passage is taken from Stokes' translation of St. Colman's Irish verses:
"A wonderful horse had Lugaidh,
Aedh was the eldest of the three sons of Criomthan, Aedh, Laeghere, and Cormac.10 Laeghere is made the eldest in the tribal genealogies of his descendants, the Clan of O'Donoghue, but the collocation of the names in St. Colman's poem, the earliest document in which the two are mentioned, is decisive on the subject. One is surprised to find that the mild and considerate Aedh of the foregoing narrative acquired in after life the agnomen of Uargarbh ("the overbearing"). He was the first distinctive ancestor of Mahon and his posterity, his predecessors being the common ancestors of both tribes, the O'Mahonys and O'Donoghues. His descendants were called, after his name, the Cinel Aedh (whence Kinalea), and a genealogy under that heading, and commencing with Maolmuad, father of Cian, and grandfather of Mahon, is to be found in the Book of Leinster (loc. citat). The son of Aedh was Tighernach (pr. Teernagh). The time of Tighernach's Chieftainship was made memorable by the birth of St. Finbar at Raithleann. The ancient Irish Life of St. Finbar, which is the original on which the two Latin Lives were formed, having recorded that Amergin, his father, was the pribhgobha, chief metal-worker, of the Ri Raithleann, adds: "who at that time was Tighernach, son of Aedh Urgarbh, son of Criompthan, son of Eocaidh, son of Cas, son of Corc." The predecessors of Tighernach are here given exactly the same, and in the same order as in the genealogy of his race, and this passage presents a specimen of the incidental confirmation of such registers by the old chroniclers' inveterate habit of defining a person about whom they wrote, by attaching to his name two or more ancestors. The statement of the biographer, that the prince of Raithleann "devoted himself and his followers to St. Finbar in perpetuity," may be regarded as suggested by the undoubted fact that at a subsequent period (as we know from "Saltair na Rann"11) St. Finbar was recognised as the patron saint of Tighernach's tribe, the descendants of Eochaidh. Within their Sept-land there were, at least, four churches bearing his name―one in Templemartin, one near Kilmurry in the townland now called Warrenscourt, one a mile west of Dunmanway, and one in Kilmoe. This is attested by the place-name, Kilbarry. In the Scottish island of Barra the same patron is venerated by a Gaelic-speaking population, whose church is Kilbarr; and it is a curious coincidence that, according to Martin,12 "their greatest asseverations were by this saint, "just as we find in the Vision of Mac Conglinne that "dar Barra" (by Barra) was an exclamation used for the same purpose in Ivagha, where the scene of the story is laid. There can be no doubt that this island must have been colonized by the Ui Eachach, noted for their seamanship13 in the eleventh century, and that they introduced with their language and religion the name of the Patron Saint, who was born in their Sept-land. Nothing could be more improbable than that some other tribe colonized the island, and that in selecting a name for it, for its church, and for a small chapel, the colonists ignored their own tribal patron.
The date usually assigned for the birth of St. Finbar, i.e., A.D. 570 (circiter), compared with the dates of the accession and death of Fedlimidh (of whom presently), enables us to determine in a general way the time when Tighernach flourished. During his chieftainship the power of the tribe must have been considerable, for his son and successor, Fedlimidh, became King of Munster. He succeeded Fergus Scandail, or Sganuil, who was slain in 580 (Annals of the Four Masters). The reign of Fedlimidh was not a long one. Under the year 586, the Chronicon Scotorum has an account of his death. The Bodleian Annals of Innisfallen entet: his death under the year 585: "Mors Fedlimthe meicc Tighernaig, Righ Caissil."
O'Dugan's Kings of the Race of Heber is altogether at variance with the above Annals, and, indeed, seems a very dubious authority. As to the parentage of Fedlimidh and the date of his death, and on Munster affairs generally, there can be no better authority than the ancient Annals of Innisfallen, called the" Bodleian."
Dr. O'Brien who, like a good Dalcassian, systematically reduces to Kings of Desmond (South Munster) those Eoganacht princes who in other Annals figure as Kings of Munster, in his "Annals of Innisfallen," sets down Fedlimidh as a King of Desmond who succeeded Fergus Sganuil in 580, and died in 584. For this he incurred the wrath of Dr. O'Donovan, who says:14 "This is one of Dr. O'Brien's intentional falsifications to detract from the ancient importance of the Eoganachts." It is true that Dr. O'Brien shows in his compilation, that he was too much under the influence of the theory that he had formed about the ancient importance of the Dalcassian descendants of Olioll Olum, but the word "intentional" is unjustifiably severe, and Dr. O'Donovan should have remembered that he was often glad to avail himself of materials in this compilation, derived from sources now lost.
Of Fergus, the son of Fedlimidh, we find no mention in the Annals, nor of the son of Fergus, Bee or Bece (pron. Beke). The place-name Kinelmeky (Cineal m-Beice or Cinel m-Beice, i.e., the race of Bece) preserves the name of the latter. The name designated the family or descendants of Beke, but was never used as a name for the whole Tribe, as Cinel-Aodha undoubtedly was. It would seem that the immediate descendants of Beke and their families were put in possession of the portion of the Sept-land in the vicinity of Rath Raithleann, which thus got the name of Kinelmeky, while the more distant eastern portion continued to be called by the name of Kinelea, the original name of the Sept-land before Carbery, Ivagha, and Muskerry were annexed. As Fedlimidh, King of Munster, died in 585 or 589, it may be assumed that his grandson, Beke, flourished between 650 and 700. Between 589 and the earlier portion of the tenth century we find no mention made of any of the names in the genealogical list, but the records are not silent about Chiefs of the Clan who, like Lugaidh, Ri Raithleann, already mentioned, were not included in that list, having had no sons, or their posterity having died out.
Flann, a predecessor of Bece, "one of the Mahonys," as Smith, by a curious prolepsis, describes him, is stated, on the authority of an old historical poem, to have added Muskerry to his possessions (p. 194, Oct.Dec. number of this Journal).
According to the author of the Vision of Mac Conglinne, Pichan "King of the Ui Eachach," was a contemporary of Cahal, son of Finguine, King of Munster, who, according to the Annals of the Four Masters, died in 737. In the eighth century the Abbey of Kilbrenin was founded by St. Aodh (Latinized, Aidus), according to Usher and Colgan, "at Enagh mid-Brenin, in that part of the Co. Cork which is called Muscraighe."15 As this Abbey, of which some ruins still exist, was only a mile distant from Raithleann, and in the Sept-land attached to the fort, there can be no reasonable doubt that it was built by some eighth century Ri Raithleann and his Sept. From the Irish Life of St. Finbar it may be inferred that the site of Raithleann was in Muscraigh Mitine, though afterwards and at present included in Kinelmeky.
In 827 the (original) Annals of Innisfallen have an entry of "the death of Donal, son of Cahal, King of the Eachach."
A.D. 844. The history known as Wars of the Gael and the Gall relates that "the men of the South of Ireland under Donchadh, King of Eoganacht Ui Eachach, gave battle to the Danes."16 Here we find the head of the tribe performing the functions of the titular King of Munster of that time. It will be observed that he commanded the men of the "South of Ireland," i.e., of Munster, not merely "of South Munster." The Annals of the Four Masters have an entry of his death in the same year.
In A.D. 903 was fought the celebrated battle of Bealach Mughna, or Ballagh Moon, in the south of the Co. Kildare, two miles north of Carlow, between the Ard-Ri Flann with two provincial kings on the one side, and Cormac Mac Cuilenan, King of Munster, on the other. The Annals of the Four Masters under the above date have this entry: "The battle was gained over Cormac, and he himself was slain. . . . These were the nobles who fell with him, viz., Fogartach the wise, Lord of CiarraigheCuirche, . . . Maelmora, Lord (tighearna) of Raithlin, . . . and many other nobles besides them, and six thousand men along with them." On this, the Editor, Dr. O'Donovan, has the note: "Raithlin, this was the seat of O'Mahony, chief of Kinelmeky, in the Co. Cork." The Chronicon Scotorum of Duald Mac Firbis, now held to be an edition of the Annals of Tighernach, Abbot of Clonmacnoise (ob. 1088), has a similar entry under the date A.D. 907, but gives Maelmora the time-honoured designation of Ri Raithleann, or as it spells the name, Rathalinne. This disastrous battle had a far-reaching effect on the fortunes of Maelmora's Clan, and on the future government of Munster. It weakened the Eoganacht Clans (who alone supported Cormac in the battle) and thus prepared the way for the rise of DaIcassian supremacy.
From his place in the genealogy, it would seem that "Cian, son of Spellan"―not to be confounded with his more celebrated descendant of Brian Boru's time―was the brother, and hence the successor, of Maelmora. Cian's son was Bron; this, and not Bran (Four Masters), was the correct spelling of the name according to most of the genealogical documents and the Annals of Tighernach. Rosbrin in his western territory, Rorbroin (Broin genitive case), was obviously derived from his name.
His son was Maolmuadh, born about A.D. 930, "King of the Eachach," according to the Annals of Tigernach, and "Lord of Desmond" according to the Four Masters. It would serve no useful purpose to anglicise his name into "Molloy," as many writers have done, which had the effect of misleading Dr. Todd into supposing him to have been the ancestor, not only of the O'Mahonys, but also of the Leinster family of O'Molloy, descended from a different Maolmuadh. His last descendant in the line of the Kinelmeky Chiefs (A.D. 1602) is named Moelmo in the Pacata Hibernia.
The history of Munster affairs in the tenth century requires, as much as any other period in Irish history, to be re-written from a critical examination of sources. What passes as a history of the period in our so-called "popular" and "school" histories is, to a large extent, misrepresentation. Three causes contributed to the production of this species of history. The compilers accepted as an unquestionable authority the Wars of the Gael and the Gaill, written by an avowed and extreme panegyrist of Mahon and Brian. They are under the influence of a belief in the mythical Will of Olioll Olum regarding the "Alternate Sovereignty" of Munster. They show no knowledge of what is contained in the Annals of the Four Masters and other Annals about the events of the time.
The work known as The Wars of the Gaedhill and the Gaill17 (i.e., "The Wars of the Irish with the Foreigners") translated by O'Curry, and supplied with numerous notes by O'Donovan, was in 1867 edited by Dr. J. H. Todd, who prefixed to it a critical introduction, and divided it into chapters for convenience of reference. It may be considered as composed of two parts, which are practically separate works. The first part, extending to chapter xl., narrates the numerous invasions of the Norwegians and Danes, and their depredations, particularly in the South of Ireland. The narrative of these events written in the ordinary, simple style of Irish Annalists is admitted to be a trustworthy record of the period. The second part, from chapter xl. to the end, recounts in bombastic language the exploits of Mahon and Brian and of the Dalcassian race, culminating in the victory of Clontarf. The author was, says Dr. Todd (Introd. p. xix.) "a contemporary and strong partisan of King Brian Boru," and there is "abundant evidence" that interpolations in prose and verse were inserted by a transcriber who was of the same tribe and actuated by the same party spirit as the original writer. To those who are unacquainted with the work, the extreme intensity of the party spirit that pervades it cannot be made evident without numerous quotations for which space is not available. We may fairly characterise it, adopting the phraseology of modern criticism, as a "Dalcassian pamphlet." Yet it is from this work (and chiefly from its interpolated parts)―without giving the slightest intimation to their readers as to the bias with which it was written―that modern compilers of Irish history have transferred to their pages whole passages about the contest between Mahon and Maolmuadh. A historian's estimate of the contest referred to must depend to a certain extent on the opinion he may have formed as to the truth or falsehood of the oft-repeated statement that, in accordance with the will of Olioll Olum, the sovereignty of Munster was to be enjoyed alternately by a descendant of his eldest son, Eoghan Mar, and of his second son, Cormac Cas; that both races of his descendants accepted their ancestor's will as a kind of constitutional law and observed it for several generations. In modern times, the revival of a claim to sovereignty that had been in abeyance for over five hundred years would not be treated seriously; but in ancient Ireland the almost religious veneration for the memory of a founder of a dynasty would be considered to justify an attempt to restore his arrangement, though set aside for many centuries.
That there never was any such "will," and that the two races never shared alternately the chief rule of Munster, is a conclusion that the present writer has arrived at from the following arguments:―
I. The author of the Wars of the Gael knew nothing of the alleged will. In chapters xli. and xlii., he puts together a number of ancient testimonies eulogizing the valour of the Dalcais, and indicating their privileges. Amongst these testimonies is a forged prophecy of S. Colman of Lenin, declaring that their supremacy was to last to the end of time, and a quatrain of Cormac Mac Cuilenan,18 "King of Cashel, on their right to the van in the Munster army in attack, and to the rear in retreat. But, though the tribal historian strongly asserts their alternate right to the provincial throne, he quotes no ancient authority for this alleged privilege, which he bases, apparently, on the great importance and military prowess of the tribe. He is silent about Olioll Olum. The conclusion is inevitable―the legend of the will was never heard of before the time of that chronicler, that is to say, before the death of Brian.
2. Keating was a believer in the alleged "will of Olioll"; in fact he was dominated by this belief, and in accordance with it was shaped much of his history. But he unconsciously produced, from his own researches, decisive evidence against his view in the account of the accession of Corc, summarised in a previous page. The Eoghanacht clans, who in the latter portion of the fourth century put forward the claim of Corc as a successor to a Munster King of their own race, cannot have admitted the existence of the law of alternate succession; and the Brehons who decided in favour of Corc ignored the existence of any such law. It was by their decision, and not by any ancient law, that Connall succeeded Corc, if it be true that he did succeed him.
3. There is further evidence that the Eoghanacht race knew nothing of this legendary will. On the day after the Battle of Clontarf, Cian, son of Maolmuadh, refused to acknowledge his brother-in law, Donogh, son of Brian, as King of Munster, maintaining the superior right of himself as being of the elder line of Eoghan Mar. His words were "for Eoghan Mor was senior to Cormac Cas," as recorded in the MS., "Cat Cluana Garb" written by a South Munster author, a more reliable exponent of the views of Cian and his co-relatives than was the author of Wars of the Gael, who represents him as basing his claim on the principle of alternate succession.
After the foregoing conclusion had been arrived at, for the reasons thus briefly set forth, it was satisfactory to the writer to find that the same view had been adopted by one who is a specialist in early Irish history. In the November (1906) number of the New Ireland Review, in an article on "Ancient Irish Genealogies," Mr. John M'Neill, B.A., writes: "In dealing with the history of Munster,19 I shall show that the Dal Cais had no share in the sovereignty of Munster before the time of Brian. " He speaks of "the fiction of alternation."
We find in the Annals of the Four Masters, under the year 959, that "Fergraidh, son of Clerech, King of' Cashel, died." Maolmuadh, lord of Desmond, and head of the powerful tribe of the Ui Eachach, one of whose chiefs, of the Cinel Laeghere branch, Dubdhabdhoren, died King of Munster in 958, laid claim to the vacant position. Maolmuadh's pretentions were opposed by no one, and he became the recognized King of Munster. The proof of this assertion is, that according to an entry (which shall be quoted presently) in the Annals of the Four Masters, "the hostages of Munster" were in his possession, kept in one of his forts called Sgiath an Eigis, in Kinelmeky. Mahon, son of Kennedy, head of the Dal Cais, had as yet given no evidence of his intention to seize the provincial throne in violation of the immemorial prescriptive right of the Eoghanachts. He had succeeded after a prolonged and severe struggle in liberating his ancestral kingdom of Thomond from the thraldom of the Danish invaders. But he proceeded at once to imitate the example of the foreign marauders by placing a fleet of boats on the Shannon, and committing depredations on the territories of the Irish tribes on both sides of the river. He followed his Danish models only too faithfully, for the Annals tell us that in 957, "the Abbey of Clonmacnoise was plundered by Mahon, son of Kennedy," and the outrage was repeated by his fleet of boats in 960. Swift retribution, however, followed from the injured tribes; most of the boats were seized by the! men of the Leinster side of the river, and the Annals record the "victory of Ferghal, King of Connaught, over the Munster men on the Shannon; Dal Cais was plundered, and a slaughter made against Mahon." Mahon now resolved to seize on the throne of Munster, and made an unprovoked and unexpected raid on Maolmuadh's territory―which the Annalists thus record: "An army was led by Mahon, son of Kennedy, to Sgiath an Eigis, and he carried off the hostages of Munster, and expelled (Maolmuadh) the son of Bron, Lord of Desmond."
The invasion of Maolmuadh's territory by Mahon, elder brother of Brian, is also recorded by the (Bodleian) Annals of lnnisfallen in the following entry: "A hosting by Mahon, son of Kennedy, against the son of Bron, and he took away his hostages" (co tucc a gialla), that is to say, the hostages of others that were in Maolmuadh's custody. This occurred, according to the chronology of the Four Masters, as corrected by the editor, in A.D. 967, a year before the battle of Sulchoit. Mahon passed by Maolmuadh's chief stronghold, Rathleann, his objective point being the fort or Dun where the hostages were confined. "Sgiath an Eigis"20 has been identified with the hill of Skea, in Kinelmeky, south of the Bandon river―a plausible conjecture, if there be on the hill any remains of a fort. But it is more probable that it was the ancient name of a locality in Kinelmeky, called Curravreeda, Corad braigde, "the enclosure of the hostages." The word in the foregoing entry translated "expelled" seems rather to mean "to dislodge from one's position," "to dethrone," inasmuch as the hostages of Munster, being carried off, Maolmuadh had no longer any security for the allegiance of those who had given the hostages, and who could not now combine with him against Mahon, who had them in his power. He was thus reduced to the position of "Lord of Desmond," as he was called by the Annalists, for "he is not a king (said the Brehon Law) who has no hostages." But, though Mahon by his sudden attack on Sgiath an Eigis had gained this great advantage, he did not succeed in conquering Maolmuadh and taking him prisoner (as one MS. of the Wars of the Gael asserts). Had he done so, and, as a matter of course, obtained members of Maolmuadh's family as hostages, his own life would not afterwards have been taken, with the certainty of a reprisal. The foregoing passages of the Annals, though most necessary for understanding the position of Maolmuadh and the motive of his subsequent animosity towards Mahon, have apparently never been read, certainly never been quoted, or made use of, by any of the numerous compilers of Irish history, in their accounts of Munster affairs in the tenth century. "Great plunders and ravages were now made by Mahon in Munster," says the author of Wars of the Gael, who proceeds without attending to chronological order, to specify the plundering of two Eoganacht territories (besides Maolmuadh's already mentioned), the sept lands of the Ui Enna, or Knockany, and the sept lands of Donovan,21 chief of Ui Fidhgenti, ancestor of the O'Donovans. From this chief, however, he cannot have obtained hostages, as subsequent events plainly prove. Under the year 969 (corrected chronology) the Annals relate that "an army was led by Mahon, son of Kennedy, into Desmond, and he remained three nights in Corcach (Cork) and carried off the hostages of Desmond," who are distinguished from the "hostages of Munster" seized in 967.
After these events, his tribal chronicler (Wars of tile Gael, page 85) states that: "Mahon now assumed the sovereignty of Munster, bravely and valiantly, etc., and he continued in the sovereignty six years." His reign is, therefore, alleged by the chronicler to have commenced in 970, six years before his death, and about ten years after the death of Fergraidh,22, 23 King of Cashel. During those ten years, was the provincial throne vacant through the neglect of the Eoghanacht clans to exercise their immemorial right of appointment, or was its occupant some other chief and not Maolmuadh? No such allegations are made by the author of the Wars of the Gael, who thus practically admits that, in the contest for the sovereignty, Mahon was the aggressor on a Munster king already in pacific possession. Maolmuadh did not acquiesce in Mahon's aggression, but, according to the (original) Annals of Innisfallen, in the third year after the raid on Sgiath an Eigis, that is to say, in 970 (the very year when Mahon assumed the title of King) having mustered an army, marched towards Limerick, "obtained the hostages of Munster from Limerick to the south, and went against Mahon." The result of the encounter with Mahon is not stated. Maolmuadh would seem to have succeeded in exacting from the subordinate chiefs other hostages to replace those taken off from him in the raid of 967. In 972, the rivals again met in battle―an indecisive battle; according to an entry in the Dublin Annals of Innisfallen, "many fell on both sides." In the following year some opposition to Mahon's rule seems to have been manifested in West Munster, for the Four Masters, under the year 969 (recte 971) record that: "Mahon, son of Kennedy, led an army into Kerry and demolished several forts, amongst others Dun Fithrech." It cannot be supposed that his numerous raids and plunderings made Mahon a persona grata to the people of South Munster, or that they considered him to have by these means acquired the title and authority of King of the Province. It is strange that Dr. Todd, in writing his Introduction to the Wars of the Gael, should have implicitly followed the guidance of the author of that work (though he was the first to call attention to that writer's partisan bias), and did not consult the Annals from which the above passages have been extracted. Had he read them he would not have written "that Mahon's sovereignty in Munster was acknowledged without dispute for about six years," that his opponents "did not meet him in battle," that he was "the acknowledged sovereign of Maolmuadh and Donovan," who had "submitted to him."
Mahon had hitherto succeeded by being able to bring the undivided power of the Dalcais to bear on the individual clans or partial combinations of the Eoghanacht race. But at length Maolmuadh and Donovan agreed to invite or accept the co-operation of the Danish chiefs, Imar, of Limerick, and his son, Dubhgen. To have recourse to Danish allies or mercenaries in Irish inter-tribal feuds was, unfortunately, no unusual expedient in the tenth century―King Brian himself employed Danish cavalry in his campaign against Malachi, King of Ireland, and had a Danish sonin-law, Sitric. It would be a mis-description of the motives of Maolmuadh and Donovan to say, as has been so often said, that they were incited to action by jealousy of Mahon's success; they must have been influenced by a much stronger passion, revenge for unprovoked injuries. They were not the aggressors in the feud. With every disposition to charge them with having combined with the Danes against Mahon when defending his own territory of Thomond at the battle of Sulchoit, the Dalcassian historian is unable to say more than that "they were ready, i.e. disposed, to attack the Dalcais, though not for the sake of the foreigners." He asserts that "many of the Gaels of Munster" accompanied the Danish army to Sulchoit, but in his subsequent narrative, both in prose and verse, he represents that battle as a "battle against the foreigners." It an expression repeated over and over,24 and no Irish names are mentioned in the list of the slain. Had either of the two chiefs who were afterwards concerned in the death of Mahon, been involved in !he Danish rout at Sulchoit, the fact would have been exultingly chronicled.
The object of the confederacy formed against Mahon in the sixth and last year of his reign, is thus described: "Maolmuadh, son of Bron, and Donovan, son of Cahal, and Imar and Dubhgen,25 united their hosts and revolted against (literally, turned against) Mahon" (Wars of the Gael, chap. Ixv.) It is a gross perversion of the plain meaning of that sentence to interpret it to mean (as a certain writer did) that the four at their meeting resolved to assassinate Mahon. The history expressly states that that resolution26 was agreed on subsequently by Imar and Donovan: "And Donovan in his own house betrayed Mahon, having been instigated to it by Imar of Limerick, and he delivered him up to Maolmuadh, son of Bron, and to Imar, in violation of the saints and clergy of Munster." The words, "and to Imar" appear to be an addition to the text, for the subsequent narrative shows that Mahon was delivered up to Maolmuadh alone, and that Imar was not present.
It is plain that Mahon felt greatly alarmed at the confederacy formed against him, as he consented to negotiate with Donovan (whom he, perhaps, hoped to detach from the confederacy) without even stipulating for a neutral place of meeting. He took the precaution of having Donovan's safe conduct guaranteed by ecclesiastical personages; but he should have remembered that he himself had set at nought religious influences when he plundered the venerated Abbey of Clonmacnoise. The passage above quoted clearly exonerates Maolmuadh from complicity in the plot to bring Mahon to Donovan's house. In pursuance of the resolution of the four confederates to "unite their hosts," he was on his way from the south with his clan, and had reached the district of Fermoy, then extending to the borders of the present county of Limerick, when he appears to have been made aware by a message from his ally that Mahon was being sent on to him, and at once gave the fatal order to his men. The most authentic and impartial account of this tragic event is the entry in the Annals of Tighernach, Abbot of Clonmacnoise (ob. 1088) under the year 976: "Mahon, son of Kennedy, King of Munster, was killed by Maolmuadh, son of Bron, King of the Ui Eachach, having been treacherously delivered up by Donovan, son of Cahal, King of Ui Fidhgenti." Here, again, as in the passage already quoted from the Wars of the Gael, no treachery is attributed to Maolmuadh.27
The foregoing passages contain all that can be known about this event. The circumstantial account or accounts in the Wars of the Gael (chap. lix.-Ix.) cannot be used as material by anyone who aims at writing a critical history of those times. Not only was !he writer a strong partizan, but, "it is quite cvident," says Dr. Todd, "that the narrative is not in the state in which the author left it. It bears internal evidence of mutilation and interpolation. Sundry poems have been inserted into the text, which are clearly of a more recent date. Two accounts not altogether consistent with one another are given." Nevertheless, an assortment of details derived from this work has been used, and will, perhaps, for some time continue to be used to embellish the pages of popular histories.
With no other data from the Wars of the Gael than the names, "Cnoc Rebhraidh" and "Raithlin Mor, in the district of Fermoy," and the statement that Maolmuadh, while at the latter place, "saw at a distance the killing of Mahon," to arrive at the conclusion that the event took place at Macroom, was no ordinary feat of antiquarian reasoning. This feat has been accomplished by altering the text of the Wars of the Gael against all MSS., and by making many fanciful suppositions. It has also been assumed that there was a "Leacht Mahon" (Mahon's grave) near Macroom. This latter supposition is negatived by the account which Smith got in 1749 from the local antiquaries, who translated for him the ancient chronicle about Bealach Leachta, and gave him the traditional information on the subject that he made use of in his history; they knew nothing about a "Leacht Mahon" or about Mahon's death in that neighbourhood. The name is a modern one, imposed by the guess of some antiquary who lived after Smith's time. Even if that place-name were ancient, it would not necessarily have originated from Mahon, brother of Brian Boru, any more than Crossmahon, Ballymahon, Kilmahon, Dunmahon, &c., &c.
While unsupported by historical evidence, the opinion in question is intrinsically improbable. Why should Donovan's troops have conveyed Mahon to Macroom, ten miles west of Maolmuadh's residence, or why should the latter have instructed his own men to take Mahon to that remote locality if surrendered to them in the district of Fermoy? But enough of this visionary theory.
It was deplorable that Mahon's life should have been taken through revenge, when he might have been liberated after having been obliged to restore the "hostages of Munster" (never intended for him), and to personally give hostages as security that he would abandon the position he had usurped. But, in every age, whoever endeavoured to dethrone or displace any existing ruler, whether king, prince, or chieftain, if he fell into his adversary's hands, met the same sad fate as Mahon. In the more civilised and humane eighteenth century, if Charles Edward Stuart had been surrendered by a treacherous entertainer to the English government, to earn a reward of thirty thousand pounds, the surrender would not have been refused on account of the treachery of the entertainer, and that prince would have ended his days like Monmouth.
Maolmuadh now re-assumed the sovereignty of Munster without opposition from any quarter, and held it for two years.28 In the Book at Leinster and the Book of Munster, his name is included in the list of Munster Kings, and even the author of the War's of the Gael, in a passage which shall be quoted presently, acknowledges him to have been the provincial king. Brian did not claim the title which his brother had acquired. He was waiting for the time when he could assume it after having crushed all opposition. He spent two years in preparing for the final contest with Maolmuadh and the Eoghanacht. The incredible story that he sent a herald to Maolmuadh, challenging him to a pitched battle at Bealach Leachta, rests on the questionable authority of a poem interpolated in the Wars of the Gael.29 It was not by forewarning his adversaries and facilitating the muster of their allies that Brian won his unbroken series of victories. The idea of a challenge to a pitched battle was, probably, suggested to the bard by the old heroic legends of Ireland in which such challenges are not unusual incidents. To prepare for the impending attack Maolmuadh made a large but by no means a complete muster of the race of Eoghan; the fate of Donovan must have deterred some of the clans in Limerick and Tipperary, who might at any moment be easily invaded by Brian and his united Dalcassians. We learn from the old Irish chronicle quoted by Smith (History of Cork, new edition, p. 154), that, even though the Southern army was reinforced by a body of Danish allies or mercenaries, it was out-numbered by the army of Brian. At length the long expected battle was fought at Bealach Leachta,30 a mile east of Macroom, at the junction of the Sullane and the Lany.31 "And Brian fought the battle of Bealach Leachta, in which fell Maolmuadh, son of Bron, King of Munster, and with him twelve hundred of the Gaels and the foreigners" (Wars of the Gael, p. 109). The number of those who fell on Maolmuadh's side may be supposed to have been exaggerated by the tribal historian, who says nothing about Brian's losses. The entry in the Annals of the Four Masters under the year 976 (the true date is 978): "A battle between Brian, son of Kennedy, and Maolmuadh, Lord of Desmond, in which Maolmuadh fell, and there was a great slaughter of the men of Munster." The term "men of Munster" included both armies,32 and thus is confirmed the account of the ancient chronicle to which Smith had access, that "the battle was furiously fought on both sides." The record of the battle in the (original) Annals of Innisfallen, a far more ancient and accurate authority than the Four Masters, gives to Maolmuadh the title of King of Cashel, i.e. of Munster. Local tradition informs us that Brian took up his position on the north bank of the Sullane, and Maolmlladh on the south hank; that the battle lasted the whole day, and that the rout of the retreating army was completed at Bearna Dearg (Red Gap), a place-name still preserved in the townland of Sleveen. During the last half century, large quantities of bones of men and horses have been dug up in the battle field, ghastly mcmorials of the combat.
In the short account given of the battle by the author of the Wars of the Gael, no mention is made of the person by whom Maolmuadh was slain. "The narrative," says Dr. Todd (Introd. p. cxxxix.) "evidently implies that he was slain in a fair light and not under any peculiar circumstances." But this did not satisfy the transcriber who interpolated the Wars of the Gael. After the account of the death of Mahon, he inserted into the text a forged metrical prophecy which he puts into the mouth "of a cleric." He then duly records the fulfilment of the same, i.e., that Maolmuadh "lost his eyes through the curse of the cleric" at the battle of Bealach Leachta, that he was "found in an alder hut at the ford," slain by "Aidh from the borders of Aifi," and buried on "the north side of a hill on which the sun never shines." To accept any one of those disparaging details from a partisan interpolator, the forger of a prophecy, would be a violation of the most fundamental duty of a historian. The interpolator, however, gives no support to the supposition that the slain king was buried on the battle field. The expression "on the north of a hill" (do cnuic) not "of the hill”―as erroneously translated―would be perfectly applicable to a burial place near Rath Rathleann, which was on the north side of a hill, as the writer might have heard, adding from his own imagination the circumstance that the grave was never illumined by the rays of the sun. Maolmuadh's residence was only ten miles distant, and it is not credible that one recognised as King of Munster was buried where he fell, and that his son, Cian (with whom Brian immediately made peace) did not cause him to be removed to the burial place of his ancestors, probably the Abbey of Kilbrennan, in the vicinity of Rath Rathleann. Such was the usage of the times, for, after the battle of Clontarf "thirty of the nobles who were killed were carried to their territorial churches wherever they were situated, all over Erin" (Wars of the Gael, p. 211). Mr. Haverty in his History of Ireland, gravely records that "Maolmuadh was slain by Morrough, son of Brian, a youth of fifteen years." Dr. Todd shows that the statement is not supported by historical evidence. It may be added that such an exploit of Morrough would not have been left unrecorded by the author of the Wars of the Gael, who exhausts on him the language of panegyric, and that such a tradition was unknown to the interpolator whose account has been already given.
Brian was now supreme in Munster, and to secure his position, "took hostages even to the sea."33 But he was not dominated by vindictiveness; he had the spirit of a statesman, and he wished to win to his side enemies over whom he gained a Pyrrhic victory. He made peace with Cian (pr. Kian) son of his late competitor, on terms that secured to himself reliable co-operation of great value in his subsequent campaigns. Remembering how the Eoghanacht clans, during the many centuries of their predominance, while monopolizing the sovereignty of Munster, never interfered with the right of his ancestors to the Kingdom of Thomond (North Munster), he agreed that Cian should succeed to the dignities possessed by his late father, who, as we have seen, was "Chief of the Ui Eachach" and "Lord of Desmond." Moreover, he gave in marriage to the new chieftain his daughter, Sadhbh. Sadhbh (pr. Soyve) anglicised, or rather latinized "Sabia," absurdly translated "Sarah," was the daughter of Brian by his first wife, Mor, whose father was the chief of Hy Fiachra in Galway, ancestor of O'Heyne. Murrough, Brian's eldest son, was fifteen years old at the Battle of Bealach Leachta, and his sister, married very soon after to Cian, must, of course, have been somewhat older. It is absurd, therefore, to describe her as "the daughter of Brian's third wife, Gormflaith" (sister of the King of Leinster), as stated in that not very accurate production, "The Lambeth Pedigree of the O'Mahonys," compiled by Sir George Carew. Brian could not have married Gormflaith before the year 1009 (see Annals Four Masters on that year):
CIAN, SON OF MAOLMUADH
In the traditions of the sept called after his son, Mahon, the memory of no other ancestor has been cherished in the same degree as that of "Cian na m-beann óir," "Cian of the golden cups." His prestige as having held high command at Clontarf, his boundless generosity, his tall stature and striking figure, as attested by tradition, contributed to make him the favourite hero of his descendants. The ancient topographical poems, already published in Part I of this history, extol the intrepidity "of the chief who never turned his steps backwards in battle;" they dilate on his profuse hospitality, and the state he kept up at Rathleann, where a bodyguard of three hundred horsemen came to him each morning, and an equal number of female attendants waited on Sadhbh in the Dun that bore her name. Mac Liag, Brian's chief bard and chronicler, expressed his admiration of Cian, not only in the poem on Rathleann, but also in the Elegy of Kincora, translated by Mangan, and in another Elegy on Brian, beginning with "Fada beit gan aoibinear" (translated by Rev. W. H. Drummond, D.D.) from which the following is an extract:
"Grief and despair my anxious bosom fill
To hear my prince's (Brian's) joyous voice no more;
Oh! how unlike this journey drear and chill
Was that to Cian in the days of yore.
To Cian of the Carn―to Cian high
In wealth and power, I went with boundless speed,
With him could none but royal Brian vie
In every generous thought and glorious deed."
In Giolla Caomh's Elegy on Brian and his sons there are several stanzas on "Cian, the High Chief of the hosts from Carn Ui Neid." But the highest eulogy of him was written by one who was not a Munster man, Mac Coise, the chief hard of Malachy, the contemporary King of Ireland. Mac Coise, who had witnessed the battle of Clontarf and afterwards became a monk at Clonmacnoise. Only one stanza has been preserved:
"Innedrad mo teirt an Cian,
Mac Maolmuard na n-eacra n-dian,
Cé cuarduígear tiar agurtoir
Ni faca a ramail de riol Eibir."
The purport of these lines is, that in all his experience he knew none like Cian of the race of Heber. On the contemporary evidence about Cian, in prose and verse, Mr. Hardiman in his Irish Minstrelsy, vol. ii., page 366, thus comments: "This prince bore a high character for wisdom and bravery. No one," says the historian, "seemed more worthy of the Crown of Munster or Monarchy of Ireland than Cian, and had fate so decreed it, to all appearance, Ireland would not have felt the calamity she so long endured. According to Mac Coise, chief chronicler of Ireland, who died, anno 1023, Cian was as gallant and generous a prince as the house of Heber ever produced."34
Cian resided, usually, at Rath Raithleann, the seat of his ancestors since the time of Corc, and often called after himself, "Rath Céin" and "Cathair Céin " (Céin genitive case). To the numerous ancient forts in its vicinity, provided for the chief's followers, he added two others which are named in one of the descriptive poems already quoted. The fact that a fort was bestowed on the chief harper and another on the trumpeter, doubtless with a retinue of attendants, shows the importance of those functionaries in the tenth century.
He appears to have occasionally lived at Enniskean, which was called after him, as Sir R. Cox was informed by the Irish antiquaries of his time. There was a fort there, Dearg Rath (Red Fort) which gave its name to the townland on which was built the village of Enniskean. By the Four Masters, under year 1583, this place-name was misspelt Innircadin, the correct spelling, in Irish, of Inniskeen in Fermanagh. They sometimes mispelled southern names (Raithleann among the number), having a general resemblance to northern names with which they were more familiar. Southern antiquaries were, of course, better authorities on the meaning and origin of our local place names. The Irish-speaking people of that district always pronounced the word as if written in English, "Inniskayn." Cian was the hero of many folk tales, and one of them, a very ancient one, has been published by Mr. Standish Hayes O'Grady in his Silva Gadelica, from a MS. in the Egerton Collection, British Museum. In it we read: "ocur do imtig Cian go h-innir Céin, occur go bi bliadain ann," and Cian went to Inniscein (Kein) and was there a whole year," while his wound was healing. The passage confirms beyond question the traditional explanation of the name given to Cox in 1687.35
For other folk tales about Cian, see last vol. Transactions Inverness Gaelic Society, 1907.36
It has been conjectured that another of Cian's residences was in Lisbanree, a townland near Bandon that derived its name from an ancient fort, perhaps co called after Sabia, Cian's wife, though, of course, it is possible that the name existed in his father's time.
The chief events of Cian's life, after the battle of Bealach Leachta, are recorded in the Leabhar Oiris, it copy of which is among the O'Reilly MSS. (R. I. Academy), from which the following excerpts are taken. The chronology differs somewhat from that of the Four Masters:
A.D. 979. War was made by Donal, son of Faelan, chief of the Deisi, and by Iomhar (Danish) chief of Portlairge against Brian and Cian, son of Maolmuadh, Brian obtained hostages and the Headship of Munster. (The battle in which the final victory was gained is not named by this chronicler, hut is called the battle of Fan Conradh in the Dublin copy of the Annals of Innisfallen, which states that a naval expedition of the Ui Eachach assisted in this campaign).
A.D. 982. A hosting of the men of Munster under Brian and Cian to Ossory. Success of the hosting and submission of the two Leinster kings to Brian.
A.D. 1002. A hosting of Brian and Cian to Athlone, and Brian obtained the hostages of Connaught. The date in the Annals of the Four Masters is 1001, and under the same year they mention another incursion to Magh Murthemne, near Dundalk, in which the Leabhar Oiris (though assigning a later date) asserts that Cian was present. Brian in A.D. 1002, according to the Annals of Ulster, became King of Ireland, and from this date we find no evidence that Cian personally took part in any subsequent campaign until the battle of Clontarf. But the men of the maritime portion of his sept land "and such other men of Eire as were fit to go to sea" (Wars of the Gael, p. 137) aided Brian in the. naval expedition he organised against parts of England and Scotland, and Brian, we are told, "gave one-third of the tribute thus acquired to the warriors of Leinster and of the Ui Eachach l\Iumhan. Dr. Todd, who had cast some doubt on this expedition in his note on the above passage of the Wars of the Gael, altered his view when writing his Introduction to that work; and admitted the probability that such an event took place. In the comparatively peaceful period that followed until A.D. 1014, Cian appears to have been a frequent visitor to Brian's palace, as may be inferred from Mac Liag's "Lament," in which he apostrophises Kincora: "Where, O Kincora, is Brian, and Murrough and Conaing and Cian, the son of Maolmuadh?"
A description of the battle of Clontarf belongs to the general history of Ireland. In these pages we shall give only some excerpts showing the part taken in that memorable battle by Cian, and his clan and other followers.
In describing the preparations for the battle of Clontarf, all ancient authorities agree in stating' that there was a complete muster of the Clans of the race of Eoghan Mor, and of the other clans of South Munster. When enumerating those clans, our principal modern historians, following, as' we shall show, the ,most trustworthy evidence available, commence with the Ui Eachach Mumhan, as admittedly the predominant power in South Munster. The following account is from Moore's History of Ireland, vol. ii.:―"The division whose task it was to oppose the second of the enemy's corps was commanded by Cian and Donald, both princes of the Eugenian line, and of whom the former is said by the Annalists to have exceeded in stature and beauty all other Irishmen. Under these Chiefs were ranged, in addition to the warriors of their own gallant tribe [the Ui Eachach], the forces of the King of the Decies, and all the other septs and principalities of the South of Ireland." And in a note: "Cian was the Chief of the Eugenians of Cashel [Munster], and son-in-law to Brian. There remain some elegies on this warrior's death."
Haverty (History of Ireland, chap. xiv.) defines the position of the South Munster forces without determining to whom they were opposed :―"Brian's central division comprised the troops of Desmond (South Munster), under the command of Cian, son of Molloy (ancestor of O'Mahony), and Donnell, son of Duvdavoren (ancestor of O'Donoghue), both of the Eugenian line; together with the other septs of the South, under their respective chiefs, viz.: Mothla, son of Faelan, king of the Decies; Muirkertach, son of Anmcha, chief of Hy-Liathain (a territory in Cork); Scannlan, son of Cathal, chief of Loch Lein, or Killarney; Loingseach, son of Dunlaing, chief of the territory of Hy; Conall-Gavra, comprised in the present 'baronies of Upper and Lower Connello, in the County of Limerick; Cathal, son of Donovan, chief of Carbry-Eva (Kenry, in the same county); Mac Beatha, chief of Kerry Luachra; Geivennach, son of Dugan, chief of Fermoy; O'Carroll, king of Eile; and according to some accounts, O'Carroll, king of Oriel, in Ulster."
Dr. O'Donovan draws the same conclusion as Moore, from the MSS. authorities, in his Appendix to the Annals of the Four Masters, vol. vi., where, in his account of Cathal, son of Donovan, ancestor of the O'Donovans, he says: "He was placed in the second division of Brian's forces, of which Kian, ancestor of the O'Mahonys, had the chief command, and this division contended with the forces of Leinster."
These historians justly disregarded the account given of the disposition of the Munster forces, and of their commanders, by the deeply-prejudiced writer of the Wars of the Gael, who could not bear to mention the name of the Eoganacht tribes at all, in the arrangements for the battle. That the ruling race in South Munster, from whom the kings of Munster were selected for many centuries, accepted as their leader MothIa, the chief of the comparatively obscure tribe of the Deisi, is intrinsically incredible. Towards the end of this book the writer shows that he was well aware of Cian's position in Munster affairs, and that he was the only rival of Donogh for the provincial throne. He cannot, therefore, have believed his own statement as to the leadership of the forces of Desmond. Only one modern writer, the author of a school history, has been so uncritical as to follow him as an authority on this point.
The authorities followed by the writers above quoted were the Dublin Annals of Innisfallen, and the MS. known as "The Cath Chluana Tarbh," a Munster tract that had been used by Keating. They were not acquainted with the "Leabhar Oiris,"37 and did not know that the former of these authorities just mentioned was largely compiled from that record. The Leabhar Oiris has been traditionally ascribed to Mac Liag, who was both bard and chronicler, and though the language has been, by frequent transcription, modernized into the Irish of the sixteenth century, yet it preserves (as also does the "Cath-Chluana Tarbh") some grammatical forms and peculiar idioms that indicate an ancient origin. The following is an extract from an entry in this book, for A.D. 1014, recording the muster of the Southern tribes:―"Cian, son of Maolmuadh, over the nobles of Desmond' and tribes of Eoghan Mor, and Donal, son of Dubdavoren, Chief of Cinel Laeghere,38 and Mothla, Chief of the Deisi," &c., &c. Further on, it mentions among the assembled warriors, O'Carroll of Oriel, and Maguire of Fermanagh, whose names do not appear in any other chronicle. To these it attributes a resolution to afford an example of fraternal union between northern and southern Gaels-a sentiment rarely felt in that period of disunited tribes and local partisanship:―"As we are from the farthest north part of Ireland, let us join the battalion of Cian Mac Maolmuaidh, as he is from the extreme south of Ireland." This national sentiment disappears in Dr. Charles O'Connor's Latin translation:―"Debemus ire in caterva Cenii, Filii Maolmuadii, quoniam is est altissimus et pulcherrimus Hibernorum―'the tallest and handsomest of Irishmen.'" This version, so opposed to grammar and idiom, was perhaps suggested to the translator by the Bardic eulogies of Cian's physical and other perfections. It has been accepted and quoted by many writers, Moore, Haverty, O'Callaghan (Hist. lrish Brigade), without the least. suspicion of its inaccuracy, which is now brought to light for the first time.
All the Irish accounts agree that the army of Brian advanced to the battlefield in three divisions against the enemy arranged in a similar formation. According to the Leabhar Oiris, the Dalcassian battalion, opposed to the mail-clad Norsemen, was under the command of Murrough, son of Brian; the second battalion, opposed to the Leinster men and one Danish squadron, was under the command of Cian, son of Maolmuadh; and the third battalion, composed of the Connacht tribes, was under Tadhg O'Connor of Connacht and O'Kelly of Ui Maine, and opposed to the Danes of Dublin. In the Celtic military system, allied tribes, and those from the same province, were grouped together, and each tribe formed a distinct column separated by a marked interval from the others. This peculiar formation lasted as long as the Clan system from whose exigencies it arose.39
In some recent dissertations on the battle, it has been maintained that Turlough, son of Murrough, was in command of one of the three battalions. This statement will not bear investigation. Turlough was then only fifteen years old, according to the Annals of Clonmacnoise and the Leabhar Oiris, and this assertion is in accordance with Brian's age as determined by the date of his birth, given in the Annals of Ulster (A. D. 941), and in accordance also with the numerous passages of the Wars of the Gael, which describe Murrough as in the prime of life and in the fullness of his strength. Moreover, the latter work expressly says that the youthful hero, Turlough, was placed, where we would expect one of his years to be, "along with (air oen ris, at one place with) his father, Murrough."
The question―whether the Norse Sagas confirm and supplement the Irish accounts of the battle―has, in recent times, been minutely investigated. That there should be a considerable discrepancy as to details is what might be expected from the fact that the two sources were by no means contemporaneous, the Sagas having been compiled at least a century later than the Irish chronicles. On the other hand, it might reasonably be supposed that some circumstances, not noticed by the Irish writers, may have been impressed on the memory of the "Foreigners of Dublin," and from them may have come to the knowledge of the compilers of the Scandinavian accounts. In the Njal Saga we, are told that Brodir and Sitric of Dublin commanded the wings and Earl Sigurd the centre of the Danish army. It confirms the Irish account that the Irish army had heen formed into three divisions. The commander of the wing opposed to Brodir is named UIf Hroda, the commander of the centre Kerthialfad, and the commander of the other wing (opposed to Sitric), Ospak. The first of these leaders is described as a brother of Brian, the second is the son of another Irish King, and the third is a Norse auxiliary of the Irish. Now, the statement of the Irish chronicles (1) that Murchadh (Murrough), son of Brian, was commander of the battalion opposed to Broder, and (2) that the other battalions were under chiefs who were not blood relations of the King, is thereby substantially confirmed. The substitution of "brother of Brian" for "son of Brian" is just what might be expected to happen as the result of transmission by oral tradition, and that point of difference does not affect the impression produced on the reader, that the two accounts, so far, correspond. How the name Murchad came to be represented by Ulf Hroda is a question more curious than important. The name as it stands is Norse, and has been interpreted by Dr. Dasent "Wolf the quarrelsome." Such an uncomplimentary soubriquet may have been- suggested by the account which Maolmordha, King of Leinster, gave to his Danish allies about the provocation he received from Murrough at Kincora; the soubriquet, as has often happened, may have supplanted the real name among the foreigners.
"It is not easy," says Dr: Todd (Introd. Wars of the Gael, c. ixxv.), "to identify. . . Kerthialfad with any of the chieftains on Brian's side known in Irish history." Who was Kerthialfad? Mr. J. H. Lloyd, in a learned and elaborate article in the New Ireland Review (Sept. and Oct., 1907), has sought to identify him with Turlough. This view may be summarily set aside, for the youthful Turlough was not a "commander" of any of the three battalions of the Irish army, as has been already proved. "Kerthialfad," says the Njal Saga, "was the son of King Kylfi, who had many wars with King Brian, and fled away out of the land before him, and became a hermit; but when King Brian went south on a pilgrimage, then he met King Kylfi, and then they were atoned, and King Brian took his son, Kerthialfad, to him, and loved him more than his own son. He was then full grown when these things happened, and was the boldest of all men." Now, Cian was (1) a commander of one of the three divisions of the army, (2) was the son of a King (Maolmuadh), (3) who had been at war with Brian, (4) and was defeated at Bealach Leachta, and (5) whose son was reconciled to Brian "in the South," and (6) became Brian's son-in-law, and (7) his valour has been amply attested by Mac Coise,40 Malachy's chronicler, who was present at Clontarf, and by Mac Liag.41 The points of resemblance between the Cianof history and the "Kerthialfad" of Norse tradition are numerous and striking; they are certainly not overborne by the inevitable points of difference. The mention of the "South" in connection with the origin of the commander named in the Saga is specially significant. It cannot, of course, be asserted absolutely that there is a resemblance between Cian Mac Maolmuadh (the full name) and Kerthialfad, though both begin with a K sound, and the last syllables of each, "alfad" and "aolmhuad" (with m aspirated) are not unlike. But, as has been said in the case of Ulf Hroda, the name may have been originally a Norse appellation. for an Irish opponent, intelligible at first, but altered by corruption into its present form in the Saga. It may, be objected that the Norse-named chief cuts his way towards Earl Sigurd, and kills his standard-bearer, whereas Cian's battalion was opposed to the Leinster men, and to a Danish squadron not commanded by Sigurd. The obvious answer is, that the Irish chronicles define the position of the battalions on both sides only at the commencement of the battle, and those that were widely separated in the morning might be, and doubtless were, brought into collision in the course of the day.
After the dearly-purchased victory was won, no surviving chief was entitled to command, and accordingly, the Leabhar Oiris tells us, "it was the advice of Cian, son of Maolmuadh, and Tadhg, son of Brian, to bring all the wounded to Kilmainham, and to encamp there for that night." Next day, they, doubtless, occupied themselves in the burial of the slain, while awaiting the coming of Donogh, son of Brian, who returned towards evening, bringing from the spoliation of the Danish and Irish territories (a task assigned to him the day before the battle) much-needed supplies for the victorious army. On the following day, the men of Munster recommenced their homeward march, in one body, and in the evening reached Mullaghmast, in the present County of Kildare, five miles east of Athy and about twenty-four miles from Kilmainham. There they separated into two camps. On the summit of a mound (Mullach) stood the historic Rath of Mullaghmast, one of the royal residences of Leinster, but then left unoccupied. Donogh took possession of the Rath as a camping ground, influenced probably by an apprehension of an event that came to pass next morning". "Donogh, son of Brian, and Tadhg, son of Brian, had a separate camp in the Rath of Mullachmaisteam for the survivors of the DaIcais, and Cian had another camp with the tribes of the race of Eoghan Mor" (L. O.). That encampment was a turning point in the history of the Ui Eachach Mumhan.
Cian had never reconciled himself to the subordinate position that he was obliged to hold during the time of Brian's predominance. Now at length the opportunity appeared to him to have arrived for recovering the hostages which the prudent Brian did not fail to exact from him, sonin-law though he was, and associate in so many battles. The restitution of the hostages would restore his independence, but he hoped, moreover to extort from the present necessities of Brian's sons a recognition of his own claim to the sovereignty of Munster. As the Dalcassians marched to their separate camp that evening, their greatly diminished numerical strength was obvious to the spectators. Their heroic leader, Murchadh, had claimed the right of leading them against the mail-clad Norsemen, and though the battle-axe had triumphed over the coat of mail, the ranks of the Dalcassians had been woefully thinned. That the men of Desmond suffered very much less was due to the circumstance that their opponents at Clontarf were less perfectly equipped; nevertheless a large proportion of their valiant chieftains were slain (Wars of the Gael, p. 171). The disparity of numbers between Eoganacht and Dalcais was probably not exaggerated by the author of the Leabhar Oiris when he wrote: "Donogh had but one thousand men, and Cian had three thousand."
Resolving to lose no time in availing himself of the present opportunity, Cian, we are told (L. O. n. 43), "at the break of day sent a messenger to the sons of Brian, conveying his formal demand for a restoration of his hostages, and for a recognition of him as King of Munster. He based his claim on the seniority of the line of Eoghan Mor42―”ba rine Eógan Mor na Cormac Car”―assuming―what was undoubtedly true―that among those of his own line he had no competitor for the position. Donogh replied, "that as regards the hostages, Brian had obtained the sovereignty by force from Cian's father and from himself," and that he would maintain what his father, Brian, had done, and "would not give Cian the sovereignty, if he (Donogh) had the full strength of his army. It In short, Donogh yielded to necessity. At this stage of the proceedings, Donal, son of Dubdavoren, the head of the Cinel Laeghere branch of the Ui Eachach tribe, being informed of what was going on, and perceiving that Donogh was consenting to grant Cian's demand for hostages, asked Cian "What advantage will it be for me that the Dalcais should hand you over the sovereignty?" Cian replied that he did not propose to give Donal any share beyond what he had already, his patrimony (Féinacas Féin, his legal right) in the Ui Eachach tribe-land. "In that case," replied Donal, "I will take no part in exacting hostages and sovereignty for you." "You will come by compulsion even from your own house to do so," said Cian. "We will wait for the compulsion," was Donal's reply, and he ordered the Cinel Laeghere to detach themselves from Cian's forces.
Donogh observing the evidence of hopeless dissension between the two leaders of the rival race of Eoghan, marched off with his followers to Athy, where in refusing Mac Giolla Padraig's demand for hostages, he said that "It was no wonder that Cian Mac Maolmuadh, considering the size of his army, should ask for hostages, but it was a wonder that such a demand should come from a chief of the Osraighelt (Leabhar Oiris).
The account above given of the events that occurred at Mullaghmast, is taken almost verbatim from the Leabhar Oiris and the Cath Chluana Tarbh. These compilations are of Dalcassian origin; their authors show themselves to be ardent admirers of Brian and of his sons, Murchadh and Donogh. But they exhibit no prejudice against the South Munster Chieftains, and their account bears the impress of impartiality. Very different is the narrative of the author of the Wars of the Gael. From a reluctance to mention Cian's name he says, "that the men of Desmond agreed to send a message demanding hostages from the sons of Brian." This is an absurd statement, for the hostages would not, of course, be given to the men of "Desmond" in general, but to the chief who claimed them as an appanage and security of provincial sovereignty. Moreover, there was no such consultation and agreement among the "men of Desmond," as is plain from his own subsequent account of the views of Donal Mac Duvdavoren. The writer puts into the mouths of the "men of Desmond" his own favourite theory of the "alternate sovereignty." He asserts that Donogh stoutly refused their demand, a manifest improbability, seeing that there must have been a very great disparity of forces, and he gives, in this connection, a replica of the incident of the wounded insisting on being placed in battle array, an incident which occurred in the encounter with the comparatively small force of Mac Giolla Padraig, Chief of Ossory. The "men of the South" are, of course, terrified at this display of bravery by the wounded, and shrink from battle. Finally, he finds it impossible to narrate the dissension that occurred among the men of the South without telling of the dispute between Cian and Donal, and from this we discover that he was well aware that not "the men of Desmond," but Cian, made the demand on Donogh for hostages. This writer is truly described by Dr. Todd as "full of the feelings of clanship and of the partisanship of the time" (Introd., p. ccl.). Such an author's narrative could not, therefore, be adopted in preference to that which has been above given from a less prejudiced Dalcassian authority. 43"When Cian saw Donal, and he red in the face, and with every sign of anger and fury, drawing off his followers, the Cinel Laeghere, he came and announced to him to be prepared for battIe." Donal accepted the challenge, and they agreed that their troops should proceed homewards together ("side by side"), and should not commence hostilities until they arrived within the Ui Eachach territory at the plain of Magh Guilidhe. The revolt against his authority within his own tribe dispelled from Cian's mind for the time being the ambitious design he had formed. It is plain from the record that we are following, that Donal had not "laid claim to the sovereignty of Munster," as Haverty (Hist. of Ireland, chap. xiv.) erroneously asserts. And it would seem that he would have acquiesced in Cian's possessing the hostages, if an equitable share of the tributes and other acquisitions expected from the overthrow of Brian's power in Munster had been promised him. The stipulation would not seem an unreasonable one for a powerful chief, the son of a former king of Munster (died A.D. 957) to put forward. But from Cian's point of view, any such partitioning would be tantamount to breaking up the unity of the ancient sovereignty of Munster. At all events, the dissensions of that Easter Monday morning, A.D. 1014, disrupted for ever the unity of the Ui Eachach tribe, which had now lasted for over four centuries, free from intestinal feuds. The Cinel Aedha and the Cinel Laeghere never again met in peace and amity. They proceeded to the plain of Magh Guilidhe, which constant tradition has identified with the townland of Maglin, near Ballincollig. There the fratricidal strife commenced. 44There is no definite statement as to which party won the victory, but in all the Annals, InnisfalIen, Ulster, Clonmacnoise,45 Four Masters, there is an entry commencing "A battle between the Ui Eachach themselves," and recording the death of Cian and his brothers, Cahal and Raghallach. The death of a leader―as the example of Clontarf and other Irish battles shows―by no means implies the defeat of his followers. The Leabhar Oiris in stating that Cian and his brothers, Cathal and Raghallach,46 fell, adds "amidst a great slaughter of the men of the South of Ireland." From the latter expression we would infer that other allied tribes in the South took part in the contest, that both parties suffered severely, and that there was no decisive victory. The same compiler proceeds to inform us that "Immediately on hearing of the death, of Cian, Donogh, son and successor of Brian, came down to the South, united his forces with those of Mahon, son of Cian, and gave battle to Donal, whose son, Cahal, was slain. According to the Annals of the Four Masters, Donal gave hostages. The following year another battle took place, which the Leabhar Oiris records as follows:―"A.D. 1015, a hosting by Donogh, son of Brian, and Mahon, son of Cian, and Donal, son of Dubhdavoren, was killed by Mahon in revenge for his father." Donal would seem to have been assisted by the Chief of O'Liathain, whose "death by Mahon" is immediately after recorded. According to the usage of Annals, "to be killed" by a chieftain or king does not mean killed by him personally, but by his soldiers in battle.47
The compilers of the (Dublin) Annals of Innisfallen, who made copious use of the Leabhar Oiris, deliberately inverted the foregoing entry, and set it down as follows: "A.D. 1015. a hosting by Donogh, &c., and Mahon fell by Donal. Dr. O'Brien, one of the two compilers, repeats this statement, or misstatement, in the Essay on Tanistry, already quoted (in foot note, p. 1), published in Vallancey's Collectanea, vol. i. It is no wonder that Dr. O'Donovan frequently censured this author's mode of manufacturing history. There is a discrepancy between the entry we have given from the Leabhar Oiris and that in the Annals of the Four Masters and Chronicon Scotorum about the above-mentioned battle. According to those Annals, "Donal led an army to Limerick, and there' was met by Donogh and Tadhg, defeated and slain." Now (1) as Donal already "gave hostages," it is incredible that he would commence hostilities as described; (2) by an expedition to Limerick he would leave his tribeland to be devastated by his hostile kinsmen of the Cinel Aedha, and it is extremely improbable that he would be guilty of such imprudence. Moreover, we do not know where lived the original author of the entry that those Annalists embodied in their works; but we do know that the Leabhar Oiris was written by a Munster man, and one who followed with special interest the history of the Ui Eachach. Cahal, son of DonaI, whose death is recorded above, was a young man of great promise, who had, the year before Clontarf, defeated a Danish expedition that had attacked and burned Cork (Annals Four Masters). After the death of his father, Donchadh (genitive case, Donchada), the second son of Donal, became Chief of the Cinel Laeghere, who from him derived, about the end of the century, the hereditary surname of O'Donchada (O'Donoghue). It may be regarded as certain that under this chieftain took place the migration of the Cinel Laeghere to Magunihy, in Kerry, where they displaced the ancient branch of O'Carroll of the "Eoghanacta Locha Léin," and gave to that territory the name of Eoghanacht Ui-Donoghue. No record giving the exact date of their migration has hitherto been found, but it may be assumed that they would not take the resolution of abandoning the fertile tribeland that their ancestors held, for an unknown and less promising region, except under pressure of some great disasters, such as those already mentioned in the year A.D. 1015. Now, neither in the Leabhar Oiris, whose entries may, be said to terminate with the record of the death of Mahon, son of Cian, nor in the original Annals of Innisfallen, though these have entries about the son and grandson of Mahon, nor in any other Annals is there a reference to a subsequent conflict, in the course of the eleventh century, between the Cinel Laeghere and their former fellow-tribesmen of the Cinel Aedha. Had it taken place it would have been recorded, as well as the previous conflict of Magh Guilidhe in A.D. 1014. Under the date 1049, in the (original) Annals of Innisfallen, we find that "the Finnsuileach" O'Donoghue, "Chief of Ui Eachach," was at war with the people of Corcaguiney, a district west of Magunihy, and was slain by them. The contest was continued by his successor, Loingseach, "grandson of Donal," his predecessor's brother or cousin, and he too was slain. We may fairly infer from this that the tribe had already migrated to the western part of Magunihy and was endeavouring to extend their new territory into the land of O’Falvey. Cahal, the father of Finnsuileach above mentioned, is described in the record of his death as "Lord of Ui Eachach, that is, of Rathleann." But the Four Masters took this entry from the Annalist of Innisfallen, who had given, as local compilers not unfrequently did, a merely complimentary designation to the local chief. To give to Cahal a designation taken from the old tribeland now irrecoverably lost to him was to give him an empty title indeed. The original possessors of Magunihy, the O'Carrolls, were not completely displaced, all at once, by the invaders, but continued to live on, for some time, in a part of their possessions. There are three entries about their chiefs, each called "Ri Eoganachta Locha Lein," in the Annals of the Four Masters, but after 1108 they disappeared from history, and their time-honoured designation was transferred to the O'Donoghue Chiefs, one of whom―another "Finnsuileach"―is called "Ri Locha Lein" in the Annals of Innisfallen, A.D. 1100. The Clan O'Donoghue displayed during the entire course of its history an undeviating attachment to the cause of Celtic independence. The last O'Donoghue Mor joined the Desmond insurrection; he fell in battle in 1582, and his Septland was given by Elizabeth to Mac Carthy Mor. His memory, or rather his name, still lives in the well-known legends of Killarney. The junior branch, the O'Donoghues of Glenflesk, succeeded in maintaining their tribal existence, within their fastnesses, for many years after all other Munster tribes were extinguished.48 Between them and a branch of the O'Mahons of Ivagha, that settled in Kerry in 1320, there were frequent intermarriages.
It has not been possible to identify the Dun which was the residence of Donal, son of Duvdavoren. As Donal was a powerful chief, that Dun must have been an important one, surrounded by a number of Raths for his military followers. Possibly, as Rath Rathleann was not identified until about ten years ago, some old MS. may yet be discovered which may describe the site of the Dun inhabited by Donal. The site should not of course, be sought for in Kinalea and Kinelmeky, the original home of Cian's branch―the senior branch―of the Ui Eachach before it spread westwards. Cinel Laeghere did not become a place-name, but the name of Selbach (genitive, Shelbhaigh), fourth in descent from Laeghere, was very probably contained in Ballyshelbhaigh (now Ballyhalwick), in the parish of Dunmanway, and 49Coill-tShelbhaigh, an immense wood which extended over the eastern part of the same parish and portion of the parish of Kinneigh. Dr. O'Brien, in the Essay already quoted (Vallancey's Collectanea, vol. i.), indulges in some conjectures as to the habitat of this branch, and mentions, with some other localities, Ibh Laoghaire (Iveleary), but the Laoghaire who gave his name to that Sept-land of the O'Learys was of Corcalee origin, and of a totally distinct race from the Laoghaire, the ancestor of a branch of the Ui Eachach Mumhan. The same writer's conjectures as to the time and cause of the migration to Magunihy are equally erroneous and have been refuted in the foregoing pages.
The Cinel Aedha, by the migration of the kindred tribe to Killarney, were left in exclusive possession of the extensive Sept-land, burthened with the task of defending it, with a diminished population. We shall find them designated in the Annals, until the end of the twelfth century, by the old tribe name, "Ui Eachach Mumhan," and, subsequently, by the hereditary surname derived from Mahon, son of Cian, of whom now some account is to be given.
1. The genealogy for the period before the
end of the ninth century was derived by MacFirbis and the other antiquaries from
the Saltair of Cashel, written by Cormac MacCuilenan. This work, now
lost, was extant in 1680, as O'Curry proves. He might have added that it was
known later. O'RahiIly in his Elegy on O’Mahony, father of Daniel of
Dunloe Castle, in 1706 (Rev. P. Dineen's edition, 1900), alludes to it as if as
accessible as the Book of Munster:―
"His pedigree is there complete,
In the Book of Munster, written from the first man,
Or in the Psaltair of Cashel without deceit,
Which Cormac wrote, the fountain of the bards."
Incidentally it may be stated, that some information supplied in O'Rahilly's poem, taken in connection with MS. 23 G. 22 R. I. Academy, establishes conclusively the descent of the Daniel aforesaid from Dermod Mor, chief of Ivagha, who married the daughter of the Marquis Carew about A. D. 1300.
2. See Dr. W. K. Sullivan's Introduction to O'Curry’s Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish, for numerous instances of the destruction of MSS.
3. O'Flaherty (in his Ogygia) gives from ancient authorities the following list of “Eoghanachts," or territories of tribes descended from Eoghan Mor:―Ania, Lochlein, Cashel, Raithleann, Glendamnach, Aran, Rosarguid, Moyghergin (Mor)"in Scotland.
4. See Rioga ríl eibir, etc. "King of the race of Heber and the length of their reigns," by O'Dugan (ob. 1372). Edited from the Book of Ballymote by O'Daly, 1847. The quatrain about Corc commences as follows:―
"Corc mac Lúigdeac Laocda an rean
Céud pear do ruig a c-Cairiot," etc., etc.
5. Dr. Todd in Appendix to his edition of the Wars of the Gael and the Gall, calls Corc, "Connal Corc'," by a curious mistake, forming for him an appellation compounded from his rival's name and his own.
6. From John Dalton's English translation.
7. Sluag ón Eacac na pian pérô, -- clannuib Eohain íad péin.
8. The passage in page 188 (last No. of the Journal), describing in metaphorical language the manner in which Lugaid reared his foster children, was quoted as an excerpt from a Miscellany of the Firbises, but has been since discovered by the present writer in the Book of Leinster.
9. Miss Eleanor Hull in her Text Book of Irish Literature, makes the following well-founded statement:―"Even when a whole sept migrated, as in the case of the Deise, there was no lack of space for them to settle in. In proportion to the population land was plentiful. Any man could have a piece of land for the asking, paying for it by tribute or body service to the chief. "
10. Who was the contemporary King of Munster during the Chieftainship of Tighemach, and at the date of St. Finbar's birth? This is a question not easily determined. An entry in the Chronicon Scotrum under the year 573, is as follows:―”The battle of Femhin gained by Cormac, son of Criompthan, King of Munster, in which Colman Beg was defeated." The editor of that work took the unwarrantable liberty of altering the text by substituting Cairbre for Cormac, adopting a marginal note written by O'Flaherty in his MS. copy of the Chronicon. In all probability this "Cormac, son of Criompthan," was Cormac, the brother of Aedh Urgarbh (see Book of Leinster, p. 326) and grandson of Eachaid, the ancestor of the Ui Eacbach, who flourished about 489, when his cousin-german, Acngus, King of Cashel, was killed. It will be difficult to find among the descendants of Corc, another "Cormac, son of Criompthan," who must have been born about 520 or 530. The Annals of the Four Masters have in an entry under the year 571, the battle of Femhin, with the name Cairbre substituted for Cormac, but without the epithet Crom. The Book of Leinster, in its list of the Munster kings "after the faith," has the name of Cairbre Crom, son of a predecessor Criompthan Crom, who by the epithet Crom, is clearly distinguished from Criompthan Srem or Srebh (ancestor of Caomh), mentioned in the same. page, in the sentence just preceding the list of kings. The author of the Annals of Ulster records the battle of Femhin, and the name of the vanquished, but omits the name of the victor―perhaps feeling the difficulty of determining who he was. Of course, the modern Annals of Innisfallen cannot be quoted to settle this question. As regards the name "Cairbre Crom," it is a curious phenomenon and one not easily explained, that it should have been given to many chiefs, to a bishop of Clonmacnoise, and to a territory. Keating, who seeks to identify Cairbre, son of Criompthan Sreb with "Cairbre Crom," derives the latter name from Crom Cromglas, where Cairbre was nurtured. But in that case the name would be Cairbre Cruim (genitive). He ignores the further difficulty of accounting for a Criompthan Crom.
11. In a poem on the Patron Saints of Tribes, attributed by Keating and Colgan to Aengus the Culdee, in the first half of the ninth century, the passage regarding Barra, patron of the Ui Eachach, briefly quoted in a previous page, is here given in full, in the original:―
"Ui Eacac ó Carn go Corcaig
Suar air áilne
Ar é a rún ar rat réibe
Ar cúl Dairre.
12. Martin's Description of the Western Isles, 1703. The writer has recently seen an interesting letter from the island, by which it appears that among its place-names are Tobar Barra and Gougane Barra.
13. See Wars of the Gael and the Gall (Dr. Todd's edition), p. 137: "The Ui Eachach Mumhan, and such men of Erin as were fit to go to sea."
14. Note an entry for 486, Annals of the Four Masters.
15. Archdall's Monasticon Hibernicum, 1703, p. 57.
16. See Dr. Todd's edition, p. 19, footnote.
17. This will be hereinafter quoted as Wars of the Gael, for brevity's sake.
18. Keating puts in the mouth of Cormac a speech admitting the "law of alternate succession." This speech must be regarded as derived from some recent and untrustworthy source. Had a record of any such expression of opinion by Cormac existed in the time of the author of the Wars of the Gael, it would have been known to and eagerly quoted by that chronicler.
19. The promised dissertation on Munster history has not as yet been published.
20. "This is the place now called the Hill of Skea, to the south of the Bandon River, in the Barony of Kinelmeky and Co. of Cork. The son of Bron, Lord of Desmond here referred to, was Maolmuadh, ancestor of O'Mahony, chief of Kinelmeky." Editor's note, ad loc., Annals of Four Masters, vol. ii. It is possible that Sgiath an Eigis (the shield or protection of the poet or learned man) may have been the bardic name for Rath Rathleann, and that the entry in the Annals was taken from some metrical chronicle, as were many other entries. Dun na-n Eigeas was the bardic name for Tara (Genealogy of Corca Laidhe, p. 70).
2I. Dr. O'Donovan describes this chieftain as of the "senior line" of the descendants of Olioll Olum, but he is unable to cite in support of this claim any authority but O'Flaherty, a modern writer who died in 1718. The Book of Leinster, p. 319, makes Lugaidh, father of Corc, King of Munster (vide Genealogical Table, No. 1. supra.), the elder brother of Daire Cearba, who was the ancestor of Donovan. And in the Book of Ballymote, p. 172, we read:―"Olioll Flanbeg duos filios habuit, Lugaidh et Daire Cearba." Dr. O'Donovan was therefore 'mistaken―quandoque bonus dormitat, etc.
22. The Chronicon Scotorum of Duald Mac Firbis has, under the year 959, the entry:―"Fergraidh, son of Clerech, King of Cashel, a suis occisus est," was killed by his own (Eoghanacbt) race. This brief and obscure entry is explained by a statement in the (Dublin) Annals of Innisfallen, that Donal, son of Murkertagh O'Neill having devastated Munster, the inertness of the King of Munster, who did not muster an army to oppose the invader, excited the indignation of the Eoghanacht clans, who, headed by Maolmuadh, attacked and defeated Fergraidh and put him to death. This statement throws light on the circumstances under which Maolmuadh was chosen King of Munster. Dr. Todd shows conclusively (Wars of the Gael, appendix, p. 239) that Donogh, son of Ceallachan Cashel did not succeed Fergraidh, and was never King of Munster. The editor of the Chronicon Scotorum adopts Dr. Todd's conclusion and arguments. Donogh died in 961, nine years before Mahon assumed the title of King (Chron. Scot.)
23. The statement of the author of Wars of the Gael, that Donovan's tribe were in possession of some land that had belonged to the Dalcais would require to be confirmed by some more impartial authority.
24. The compiler of the (Dublin) Annals of Innisfallen states that the battle of SuIchoit was gained "over the Danes," not over Danes and Irish.
25. "United their hosts" meant that they resolved to unite them, for no actual combination of their troops is recorded as taking place in that year, the last year of Mahon's life.
26. Dr. Todd (lntrod. to Wars of the Gael) points out that Donovan did not "invite Mahon to a banquet" (as is often stated by modern compilers), but to a conference.
27. John Collins of Myross, in his "Pedigree of the O'Donovans," asserts that Donovan, on account of his co-operation in the death of Mahon, got from Maolmuadh "nine score of ploughlands in Carbery." This is a mere invention; the writer was addicted to the practice of making history out of his head. In a letter to a correspondent in 1859, Dr. O'Donovan wrote, "CoIlins, the last Irish poet and antiquary of Carbery, was a shanachie, without any critical knowledge whatever." Collins's statement was adopted by the equally uncritical O'Hart. (Irish Pedigrees -O'Donovan.)
28. In those lists of the Munster kings (which O'Dugan followed in his Kings of the Race of Heber,) a reign of two years commencing with the death of Mahon, is assigned to Maolmuadh. But these lists are often at variance with the AnnaIs, and the authorities above quoted prove that Maolmuadh succeeded―not Mahon in 976―but Fergraidh in 959.
29. The following are extracts from the poem:―
"Go, O Cogaran the intelligent,
Unto Maolmuadh of the piercing blue eye,
To the son of Bron of enduring prosperity,
And to the sons of the Ui Eachach.
. . . . . . . . . .
"Say unto the son of Bron, that he fail not
After a full fortnight from to-morrow,
To come to Bealach Lechta hither,
With the full muster of his army and his followers."
―Wars of the Gael, p. 104.
The bard, imperfectly acquainted with the topography of South Munster, evidently thought that Bealach Leachta was north of Rath Rathleann, Maolmuadh's residence. It will be observed that both by bards and annalists, "son of Bron" is used as a synonym for Maolmuadh. Hence Ross Mc Brin (Broin), which was the ancient name of a townland near Carrigtwohill (according to an Inquisition of the Barrymores), is a place name called after him as being one of his personal possessions.
30. O'Dugan, a Connacht bard of the 14th century, in his Kings of the Race of Heber, erroneously assumed that this prehistoric Leacht was Maolmuadh's "monument," indicating the place of his burial.
31. "A mile east of Macroom is a newly erected bridge over the Sullane, being there joined by the Lany a small distance from the bridge, whence running in a south-east course they enter the Lee. About three hundred yards northwest of the new bridge, in a meadow near the bank of the river, are three large stones set on edgewise to one another, the middle one being five feet broad, seven in height and two thick, but the others much smaller. About sixty yards southeast from the former is another stone set up, less than the middle one before mentioned, but larger than the side ones. These stones are said to have been erected in memory of a celebrated battle fought here between Brian Boru and the O'Mahonys of Carbery."―Smith's History of Cork, new edition, page 159.
Two of the stones mentioned by Smith still exist; the third has disappeared. The name Bealach Leachta signifies "The road of the monument," but the Leacht which gave a name to the adjoining road (from which contemporary annalists took the name of this battle) must have preceded the time of Brian and Maolmuadh, and was intended to commemorate some prehistoric combat. As Leachts were numerous in ancient Ireland, there were, as might be expected, other roads bearing the name of "Bealach Leachta." The compilers of the Dublin Annals of Innisfallen state that there were different opinions held as to the site of the battle. But there are two decisive considerations which authorise us to set aside all the localities they mention except Bealach Leachta, near Macroom. Nowhere else has there prevailed a constant tradition that a battle was fought in the vicinity by Brian and Maolmuadh. There was a ford at the battlefield―so states the author of Wars of the Gael, whose testimony as to such a circumstance there is no reason for rejecting. Now in none of the other localities named by the above-mentioned compilers is there a ford. Mr. Conor Murphy called attention to this circumstance in his ingenious article in the Cork Hist. and Arch. Journal, vol. iv., an article marred somewhat by his unbounded belief in all the statements of the Dalcassian chronicler.
In a controversy that arose on this subject in 1893 (and was carried on in Vol. II. of this Journal), it was assumed by one of the disputants, and the assumption was admitted by the other, that Dr. O'Donovan, in Vol. II., Annals of Four Masters, in his notes on the entries under the years 974 and 976, held that the weight of evidence was against the Macroom site. This was a mistake. Dr. O'Donovan abstained from giving any decision on the point when writing the notes referred to. But both disputants were unaware that, when he came to write the sixth and last volume of his work, further research or consideration had convinced him that the tradition mentioned by Smith, and still existing, indicated the true site of the battle, for he says (Appendix to Vol. VI., 2246) without any hesitation or qualification, "Brian marched against the rival race of Eoghan, and came to an engagement with them at Bealach Leachta, in Muskerry, near Macroom."
32. The language of those Annals would seem to imply that there were no Danes present.
33. Dublin copy of Annals of Innisfallen at year 979.
34. In the Journal of 1896, p. 449. Canon Lyons, P.P., in his article on Rathleann, writes:― "An old man in my parish, with understanding and memory undimmed by 91 years, repeated to me a legend in connection with Cian. . . . Cian is still held in honour in the traditions of the district. His Rath is called "Cathair Céin Na mbeann óir" in a verse which I heard repeated from boyhood:―
"Catair Céin na mbean óir
Nor ria a lón ‘na a raogal
Nár cuir daoinne ruam o na tig
Agur nár cuiread a tig dé."
"The Fort of Cian of the golden cups
Whose store outlasted his life,
Who never put anyone out of his house,
And who has not been put out of the house of God."
The epithet of "the cups" must have reference to the fact recorded in the Book of Rights, that the King of Cashel was obliged to give yearly to the King of Rathleann ten drinking horns while the latter was exempt from tribute to Cashel. In the poems (already quoted) the place is called "Rath na geuach, of the cups." This conjecture is erroneous, for the epithet was peculiar to Cian. The quotation from the Book of Rights is correct.
35. See Cox's Regnum Corcagiense and Carberia Notitia. See also Smith's History of Cork, p. 14 (new edition).
36. The name" Cian" (genitive case, Céin) had been previously borne by one of his ancestors, the father of Bron, and by Cian, third son of Olliol Olum, and ancestor of the tribes called the "Cianachta." In the mythical stories we find it as the name of the father of the god Lugh. It is curious that the name should also be found in the Cymric branch of the Celtic. See, in Gray's translation of the Welsh poem, "The Death of Hoel," the lines:―
"By them, my friend, my Hoel, died,
Great Cian's son," etc.
37. The Cath Chluana Tarbh is in the shape of "a narrative, based mainly on the Leabhar Oiris, but deriving some few details from some other sources. The latter work is the form of Annals. The accuracy with which it records an eclipse of the sun in 1023 tells in favour of the antiquity and credibility of its entries; if that event was noticed and recorded by a contemporary so, presumably at least, were the historical events that are mentioned on its authority in these pages. This is a circumstance regarding this book, which, as far as the present writer knows, has not been observed hitherto. That the entry was correct can be seen by referring to the "Art de verifier les dates," (Tome i., p. 71), whose authors, two French Benedictines, had the original idea of calculating astronomically the past eclipses of the sun that must have occurred in the historic period specifying when visible in western Europe, and thus affording a means of sometimes checking the accuracy of historians. From a note in page 778, vol. ii. "Annals Four Masters," it is plain that this work was unknown to the editor. He was not aware that it was on its authority that certain western and northern Chiefs were said to be present at the battle. As regards the northern Chiefs of Oriel and Fermanagh, its statement is to some extent corroborated by one MS. of the "Wars of the Gael," which says (p. 155) that Brian received support from "beccan cuigeadh Uladh," a small portion of Ulster, besides Meath.
As there are entries in the Leabhar Oiris as late as 1028, it cannot all have been compiled by Mac Liag, who died in 1016. It has been published in "Eiriu" in 1904, after a careful collation of MSS. by Mr. R. I. Best.
38. This was Donal's correct designation. In the Cath Chluana Tarbh, or rather some MSS. of it, after "Chief of the Cine! Laeghere," as in the Leabhar Oiris, there is added "Chief of the Ui Eachach," but this is plainly an interpolation, for the original writer placed Cian's name first, signifying his headship of the tribe, and could not consistently call another, placed after him, Chief of the Ui Eachach. This, however, misled Dr. O'Donovan, who did not know of the Leabhar Oiris. In his Notes to O'Heerin, he speaks of Donal "who was killed at Clontarf, and was King of Desmond." Donal was neither killed at Clontarf nor King of Desmond.
39. It was exhibited, almost for the last time, at Killiecrankie in 1689:―"It was desirable to keep the clans distinct. Each tribe, large or small, formed a column separated from the next column by a wide interval. One of these battalions might contain seven hundred men, while another consisted of only one hundred and twenty. Lochiel had represented that it was impossible to mix men of different tribes without destroying all that constituted the peculiar strength of a Highland army."―Macaulay (Hist. England).
40. Supra, p. 113.
41. Supra, p. 113.
42. As has been observed in a previous page, he does not base his claim on any "right to alternate sovereignty;" he ignores the existence of that alleged law of succession.
43. Leabhar Oiris.
44. Smith, History of Cork," book iv., chap. x.
45. The "Annals of the Four Masters" misplace this entry. See editor's note about their error on A.D. 1013.
46. The name of Raghallach (gen. Raghallaigh) son of Maolmuadh, is embodied in "InchirahilI," the name of a town land adjoining Dun Draighnean, which, as we have seen, was one of Cian's forts. That the name should have been preserved so long is not surprising, when we consider that the analogous name Inniscein (Enniskean) called after Cian, and Roth Culleen, called after Cian's harper, have survived for the same length of time. The name of Dun Draighnean (now Castlemore) is only partially preserved in "Carrig an Duna," the name still given to the rocky mound on which the castle stands.
47. In not a few instances the Annalists, in recording the death of a King or Chief, ascribe it to his violation of the rights of a church or monastery. To account for the death of so powerful a chief as Cian, a legend grew up, or rather a story was invented, that as he was passing by Kinneigh on the day "before the battle of Magh Guilidhe, his soldiers took some of the provisions that were being carried to workmen engaged on St. Mocholmóg Church and Round Tower, and that Cian did not apologise for this, whereas Donal, who passed by about the same time, apologised for the action of his men who did the same as Cian's. The inventor of the story thought that Kinneigh was somewhere on the line of march from Mullaghmast to Magh Guilidhe; or if he knew its position, he did not perceive that he was inventing a motiveless journey for the two war-worn battalions twenty miles on to Kinneigh and back again next day to the selected battle-field that they had passed by. Had St. Mocholmóg met the two chiefs, that good man would have tried to prevent bloodshed instead of uttering for a trivial matter the imprecation that a sanguinary shanachie invented and attributed to him. The story got attached to the end of the "Cath Chluana Tarbh," the Irish MS. from which Smith (Hist. of Cork) gives it, quoting the MS. very incorrectly, and stating erroneously that Donal was "married to a daughter of Brian." He confuses Cian's contest with Donal, and Cian's contention with Donogh, son of Brian, as given in the Irish MS.
The tower of Kinneigh, in Cian's tribeland, and near Enniskean, which has been shown to be one of his residences (page 114, supra) must have been built by his assistance. That was, in substance, the local tradition. "The tradition is," says Canon Lyons in his account of Kinneigh, "that the Round Tower was built by the O'Mahonys after the battle of Clontarf. This agrees with the facts of history; these towers were built in large numbers in Brian's time, &c." (Cork Hist. & Arch. Journal, vol. ii., A.D. 1893).
48. The O'Donoghues of Kerry are of a distinct race from the O'Donoghues of Leinster (now Dunphys) and the O'Donoghues of Eoganacht Cashel, i.e. of the barony of Iffa and Offa, County Tipperary. They have been confounded with the latter tribe even by Dr. O'Donovan in his notes to O'Heerin. There are five or six entries in the "Annals" about the tribe of Eoganacht Cashel, in the eleventh century. The first of these entries is in 1014, "Dungal O'Donoghue." The name implies a grandfalher, named Donchadh, who must have been born a hundred years before, and was therefore not Donchad, the son of Donal Mac Duvdavoren, who was the ancestor of the O'Donoghues of Killarney, in whose genealogy the Christian names Dungal, Cuduligh and Macraith are not found.
49. Clan t-Sealbhaigh was one of the tribal names of the O'Donoghues. O'Heerin says:
O'Donoghue of Loch Léin,
O'Donoghue of the full, strong Flesk
Are over the Clann t-Sealbaigh.
ADDENDA ET CORRIGENDA
[Page 27, last No., "The
Bard represents himself in one of his poems, as," etc., should be
"The bard Mac Lug represents himself in one
of his poems as," etc.
The identification of the rath is made out principally from Mac Liag's description, which is more detailed than that of Gilla Caomh.
To the place names called after Corc, should be added "Cluainte Cuire" (Corc's meadows), near Dunmanway.
Page 32, Genealogical Table No. III., Macraith, ancestor of Clan Finin na Ceithime, is, by a lapsus calami, described as" 2nd son," instead of "eldest son" of the Chieftain Dermod Mor I.
No. 72, p. 194, a Latin "Litania" of the 9th or 10th century is quoted from Ward's Acta Martyrum, as incidentally determining the eastern boundary of the Ui Eachach. The Irish original may be seen in the Félire of Aengus, in the Leabhar Breac, p. 23, and in the Book of Leinster, p. 373, Atkinson's edition. Whitley Stokes, in vol. i. of Thesaurus Palæohibernicus (Cambridge, 1901), retracted his opinion as to the date of the Félire, and accepted as accurate the traditional date, "about the year 800."]
[Addenda―An ancient poem in the Book of Leinster (Facsimile Ed. 46a) preserves the memory of a Ri Rathleann who is mentioned among the notables of Munster, who are contrasted with those of Leinster. From the names of some of those contemporaries, he must have flourished in the ninth century:―
Fingin won't save thee nor Ailill,
According to the Dublin "Annals of Innisfallen,"
"Mahon, son of Kennedy . . . .was delivered up to Maolmuadh, and his
brothers, Tadhg and Brian." Nothing more is known of these brothers, but
the name of the latter is very probably contained in Curragh ui Briain, the name
of a town land near Ratb Rathleann, and in Farranbrien in Kinelea. In the
"Essay on Tanistry," which includes a history of King Brian Boru and
his successors, written by Dr. O'Brien, but published by Vallancey as his own,
Maolmuadh is described as "the most powerful, the most restless, and the
most ambitious of the Chiefs of the Eugenian line." One would think that
Mahon, his opponent, and the aggressor in the feud, as we have shown, was better
entitled to the two latter epithets. The writer goes on to say that "Maolmuadh
treacherously murdered Fergraidh, King of' Cashel," and gives as his
authority the "Book of Munster." The "Leabhar Muimhnach" has
been minutely examined, and, it may now be stated with confidence, no such
assertion is to be found in it.
To the extracts from the "Leabhar Oiris," given in page 115 of the preceding number, the following should have been added :―"A.D. 999 [F.M. 998], a hosting by Brian and Cian to Glenmama, and the foreigners of Atha Cliath were defeated, &c." The victory of Glenmama (a valley near Dunlavin, County Wicklow), is now regarded as the most complete of the victories gained by the Irish over the Danes, as they took and destroyed the Danish Fort of Dublin―which could not be attempted at Clontarf. It is celebrated by a poem inserted in the "Wars of the Gael" as greater than 'that of Moyneaita, the name of the plain of which Clontarf is part. In some excavations made in that glen in 1864, one of the pits of the slain was discovered, containing human remains and a Danish sword.
In page 112 a misplaced reference, number 33, should have been in the seventh line from the end, to refer to "Annals of Innisfallen" for the facts therein stated].